We return to the A Block and leave Korakuen Hall as the G1 Climax hits the road. Tetsuya Naito and Hirooki Goto sit atop the standings, while Yuji Nagata and Togi Makabe remain without points. This show happens to feature my second most anticipated match of the entire tournament.
TenKoji def. Katsuya Kitamura and Michael Elgin in 4:41
El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki and Taichi def. David Finlay, Hirai Kawato and Juice Robinson in 8:31
EVIL and Hiromu Takahashi def. Chase Owens and Tama Tonga in 5:10
Kenny Omega and Yujiro Takahashi def. Jado and Toru Yano in 6:29
BUSHI and SANADA def. Gedo and Kazuchika Okada in 5:43
They both won on night one and lost on night three. Sabre was with his buddy El Desperado again. We got his usual brilliance here, picking apart YOSHI’s arm in brutal ways. It was as if YOSHI found himself in a heap of trouble almost immediately. After reaching the ropes on a painful looking submission, YOSHI started the comeback, which the crowd was into. It’s great how far he’s come in the past two years, in terms of performances and crowd reaction. Sabre got a near fall with the PK, but transitioned right into an armbar attempt. I love when his constant grappling has meaning behind it. YOSHI fought out and got two on a lariat, but Sabre was relentless. He went into the Octopus Hold, turning it into a vicious double arm submission for the win at 11:48. I liked how simple this was. Sabre targeted a body part, YOSHI fought hard and just didn’t have enough.
If it was up to me, I’d have this main event. Tanahashi is Tanahashi and Nagata’s on his final G1 run. He should close out at least one show. The crowd was pro-Nagata. They worked an even outing early, with Tanahashi kind of relishing in the boos. When he took control, he taunted the crowd. I love when Tana shows heel tendencies. Tanahashi targeted the leg, but Nagata responded with some badass kicks and work on the bad arm. Things got heated with some slaps and the match picked up from there. Nagata pulled out a super exploder and brainbuster, but Tanahashi kicked out of both. Tanahashi countered a Backdrop Driver and they just slapped the shit out of each other. IT led to a bloody eye for Nagata. He popped the crowd by getting up before High Fly Flow, but Tanahashi fought him off to the mat. A cross body and High Fly Flow kept the legend down after 14:47. A damn good match, but slightly below Nagata’s first two G1 outings. Good intensity and back and forth, before Nagata fell just short.
Personally, I think Nagata should’ve won here. It would avoid the Liger BOTSJ route, where the guy in his final tournament just loses each time out, and it would set up a final big title match for Nagata. Nagata/Tanahashi headlining a Destruction event for the IC Title would be great.
Naito better wreck this jerk for murdering Daryl. These two opened the G1 25 in a shit match (*¾). Naito attacked Fale during his entrance, then taunted. Fale took over quickly and got a countout tease. Back inside, he worked one of his less interesting heat segments, with Naito playing the come from behind babyface. I did like Naito bringing out moves like the Koji Clutch, trying different things to wear down Fale. Naito’s rally was cut short when he was hit with the Grenade. Though he survived that, he couldn’t after eating the Bad Luck Fall, giving Fale a big victory at 11:55. Not good. Underdog Naito is not a role he’s great in, especially after not playing it for so long. Fale was at his most lethargic here, bringing none of the effort we’ve seen against guys like Tanahashi, Nakamura or even Shibata this year. Naito’s worst match since the 2015 one with Fale.
Not booking this match in Osaka, Ryogoku or Korakuen is a travesty. Their 2014 match was incredible (****¾) and this was only behind Ibushi/Naito for the match I was most excited for this year. My favorite thing about Ibushi is that he’s fast and known for aerial stuff, but he can strike with the best of them, so Ishii’s style is in his wheelhouse. After a short opening exchange, they went right into murdering each other. Ishii popped up from a brainbuster, but Ibushi caught him with a gorgeous dropkick. It might be the best in the business. Styles, Okada and SANADA are all up there. Ishii gave zero fucks about Ibushi’s kicks, brushing them off like nothing. Ibushi responded with disrespectful kicks to the head, so Ishii fired up and they just went into a brutal strike exchange. Slaps, headbutts and kicks galore. They traded suplexes, with Ishii hitting the stalling superplex and Ibushi nailing a snap German. Ishii wanted a German of his own, but Ibushi landed on his feet. Both guys kicked out at one after big moves, before a dragon suplex got Ibushi two. Some barbaric slaps led to a lariat. Ibushi hit the Golden Star Bomb to win in an awesome 17:14. That was what I wanted from them. Just beat each other up for 15 or so minutes. It reminded me of Shibata/Ibushi from the G1 two years ago. This was below their 2014 match, as a hotter crowd and better finish would’ve put it over the top, but it still stands as the second best G1 match this year.
This shouldn’t be a main event match, but it’s Makabe’s hometown apparently. Their G1 matches have gotten progressively worse to me (***½ in 2013, ***¼ in 2014 and **¾ last year). I won’t lie, I found it very hard to get into this. It reminded me of Goto’s main events with Okada and Tanahashi last year, which weren’t very good. At least there was more energy here. Goto tried, Makabe was motivated and the crowd was into it. Makabe called for Goto to bring his best, leading to a series of near falls. Makabe avoided the GTR and nailed a German, before they traded lariats where neither man went down. Goto remained mostly in control, with Makabe having to fight from behind to the crowd’s liking. When Makabe hit the King Kong Knee Drop, it surprisingly didn’t’ end things. He did finish things with a flurry that included a powerbomb, spider German and a second King Kong Knee Drop at 16:53. A good match that lacked a few things. Following Ibushi/Ishii didn’t help. Solid, but unspectacular.
Overall: Probably tied with night two for the worst G1 show so far. Goto/Makabe was decent, while Naito/Fale sucked. Nagata/Tanahashi and Sabre/YOSHI were very good outings, while Ibushi/Ishii was awesome. Not a must-see show by any means and it isn’t bad, but if pressed for time, only watch Ibushi/Ishii.
|Kota Ibushi||4 (2-1)||Kenny Omega||4 (2-0)|
|Hirooki Goto||4 (2-1)||Kazuchika Okada||4 (2-0)|
|Tetsuya Naito||4 (2-1)||Minoru Suzuki||2 (1-1)|
|Zack Sabre Jr.||4 (2-1)||SANADA||2 (1-1)|
|Bad Luck Fale||4 (2-1)||Toru Yano||2 (1-1)|
|HIroshi Tanahashi||4 (2-1)||EVIL||2 (1-1)|
|Tomohiro Ishiii||2 (1-2)||Juice Robinson||2 (1-1)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||2 (1-2)||Tama Tonga||2 (1-1)|
|Togi Makabe||2 (1-2)||Michael Elgin||0 (0-2)|
|Yuji Nagata||0 (0-3)||Satoshi Kojima||0 (0-2)|